Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Brecknock Hill Cheviot Sheep

I'm on the hunt..... yet again.  Also wondering if I've found a new project.  Not that I need one!

It all started with a tweet from Deb Robson and then reading her blog post: Sending more wool locks off to be photographed

I got straight onto Ravelry and started a thread in the Blacker & Beyond with FFSB Group (for anyone not a member of Ravelry, it's free, easy & instant to join, high privacy, none of the issues some people don't like about FB, & increasing numbers of farmers are joining to connect to keen hand-spinning fleece buyers)

Result was that within a few hours the modern Norwegian Spelsau locks were found, a good contact for Est à Laine Merino found, a back up source for Stansborough Grey sorted - and that just left Brecknock Hill Cheviot.

I did manage to track down and speak to one person involved with Brecknock Hill Cheviots who is spreading the word, but this is a bad time of year to be looking for fleece, even if it is only a few locks that are needed.  This is the sort of amount, below, that we're talking about. Even half that would be enough.  Not a lot, but if ALL your fleece has gone off to the British Wool Marketing Board, it could be tricky to track down.

These locks of fleece are actually Whitefaced Woodland - I just happened to have them lying around the kitchen where I knit and have the laptop.  Actually, I must confess to having bits of wool yarn and fleece in most rooms in the house.  I call it my 'house insulation'.  DH remains patiently pragmatic but unconvinced about the insulating properties of the wool in the middle of rooms.

Anyway, I then turned to twitter and remembered that Derek the Weathersheep, @WeatherSheep is in the Brecon Beacons so tweeted my request there.  Then a bit of googling and looking round twitter and I found more possible sources - and discovered some more great people/organisations to follow on twitter (have I told you about my dream of keeping sheep one day.......)
So if you're interested in research into sheepy things then have a look at @geneva_geneva and @KNconsulting (on FB)

Result is that some lovely people are checking contacts and I remain hopeful that someone has a wee bit of their Brecknock Hill Cheviot fleece lying around somewhere.

All this has however brought the Brecknock Hill Cheviot to my attention and I read on page 56 of the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook that the fibre is "crisp, dense, even with a slight luster." The fibre is also finer overall than other members of the Cheviot family.

There is also a quote from John Williams-Davies in Welsh Sheep and Their Wool.

"The history of no other breed demonstrates so clearly the peculiarly close and complex relationship which exists between the sheep and its environment."

I've had a North Country Cheviot fleece which I found to be a very good wool indeed - a very versatile fibre and it was fun to process, spin and then knit.  
This is a blog post about Cheviot fleece with details about the preparation, spinning and knitting.  The Cheviot used here is from America.

This is an interesting article about the observed differences between Scottish-type and Brecknock Hill Cheviot sheep and links to some of the Cheviot Sheep societies.

I've had a quick hunt to find specific Cheviot wool in fabrics and knitting yarns.  Interestingly I've not found much so far - it doesn't mean there isn't more out there, but it's going to take hunting down.  Some manufacturers of Scottish tweed and tartan fabrics seem to use Scottish Cheviot wool.  This is the first Cheviot knitting yarn I've found, and it's described as Border Cheviot.  Nothing for Brecknock Hill Cheviot wool though.  Is what sounds like such a lovely wool really just going into generic British wool through BWMB?  Not that there is anything wrong with our fabulous blended British wool, but it would be lovely to have some of it kept separate and turned into special Brecknock Hill Cheviot yarn & textile goods.

So, of course, those who know me will by this stage be asking themselves if there might be a Brecknock Hill Cheviot (BHC) knitting or weaving yarn project to occupy my time next year..........
It would have a head start anyway with getting contact information for BHC farmers to find some lock samples for Deb, so it should be easier than the Boreray Project.

I think it would make very nice fabric and knitting yarn indeed, just from what I've experienced with North Country Cheviot.  I'm thinking nice BHC throws and other textile gifts to buy in shops in the tourist areas of the Brecon Beacons, plus of course knitters & crafters having a versatile yarn to use.  Hmmm, I'll try and get Christmas out of the way first ;-)

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